Wildcats hungry for first win on new Liston field
Still looking for its first win at home this season, the Baker University football team will hope to end its four-game losing streak and beat Avila University Saturday evening.
The Wildcats (2-5) are 0-3 on the new artificial turf at Liston Stadium, but look to end that skid this week against the Eagles (2-5).
"Everybody else has won on the turf, except us," coach Mike Grossner said. "The junior varsity team beat William Jewell 22-0 on the turf. The high school team and our soccer team have won on the turf. I think it's time for the varsity Baker football team to win on the turf. Then we can just put that one to rest. Plus, it would be number 500 for the school."
Baker is still searching for the program's 500th victory. The 499th win came against rival William Jewell on Sept. 16 when Baker won 27-24 in Liberty, Mo.
Grossner said the team is still hungry for a win and he hopes this is the week that they are successful on the home turf.
"We've got to get a win to get off of this slide we are on," Grossner said.
The Wildcats will have to overcome many injuries, which have plagued the team during the season. Grossner said Tuesday he counted 31 players that wouldn't be playing because of injury, which is frustrating to the coach.
"It's been one of those years," Grossner said. "People ask me how am I holding together. It gets to a point where you are beyond that. You just put another guy in, coach him and hope he plays well."
He also knows that shuffling players in and out of the line up has caused many difficulties on the field, especially on defense.
"That's part of why there is some inconsistency each week," Grossner said. "I know it is because you don't know what you've got going on the field. Instead of playing at a high, emotional level, I think you have guys that are nervous. They just don't want to make a mistake, instead of making a play."
Baker is coming off an ugly loss at MidAmerica Nazarene University. The Wildcats were beaten 43-18 in Olathe.
"We got beat this week and there is no doubt about it," Grossner said.
Baker fell behind 28-0 in the first half and was unable to rally with a comeback, despite gaining 311 yards of offense. Grossner said the Wildcats had a chance to make a dent in the score, but turned the ball over.
"There are some positive things to pull from this game, though," Grossner said. "In the second half we had an opportunity to score twice. We had a miscommunication between our quarterback and receiver that resulted in an interception.
"Then we threw a pass to our tailback and he was about to score when a guy put his helmet on the ball and we fumbled at the 10-yard line," Grossner said. "Otherwise, we might have made it interesting and put a scare into MidAmerica. They were moving the ball well enough to where I don't know if we could have stopped them this week."
Now Baker will try to get back on track against Avila. One problem is many members of the Eagles' staff have either coached or played at Baker.
"They've got a lot of Baker blood in their coaching staff," Grossner said. "They would love nothing better than to come over here and beat us."
The Wildcats and Eagles kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Liston Stadium.
"Going into the Avila game we've got to improve and try not to make mistakes," Grossner said. "I think if we play pretty solid football, it's going to be a good football game."